Revitalizing industrial land with a sustainable, community-forward park

Revitalizing industrial land with a sustainable, community-forward park

The four-season landscape architecture of Bedford Heritage Park represents an expansive recovery of industrial land: Repurposing 32 million tonnes of black shale byproduct and land from the limestone extraction processes of Graymont, and regreening it into a community-fuelled regional urban park and greenspace experience while allowing Graymont’s mine to continue operating.

Located just outside the city of Bedford in the Estrie region of southern Quebec, its economically, environmentally and socially sustainable park is equal parts leisure and exploration. Arriving users are greeted by a sprawling place of diverse, year-round programming for recreation, tourism, and the simple appreciation of nature.

From a basecamp of flowering trees that evoke the region’s orchards, a pavilion of white cedar and finished concrete and playgrounds with splash pads immediately and easily accommodates brief visits. From here, pathways lead across a bridge of wood and steel and over a landscaped stream to an integrated amphitheatre of grass and stone, or up the site’s three summits reaching as high as 45 metres, topped by vegetated walkways. Each slope forms different backgrounds depending on an onlooker’s vantage point, and the shade of their abundant and meticulously placed forestry complements the park’s open spaces for sunbathing, as well as play areas found at the base. Throughout the site, its infrastructure was designed so the park bears a distinctive signature with simple, uncluttered aesthetics and using non-invasive systems that maximize light while minimizing energy consumption.

Using the quarry as an inspiration, the black shale was transformed into the building blocks for the project. Rocky landings become spatial markers and inflect the terrain with pieces of the site’s mining past, a facet complemented by the raw materiality of concrete, stone, wood and galvanized steel. 13 years in the making, its ideation and creation involved extensive community consultation and consideration.

With its urban amenities completed, the Bedford Heritage Park will continue to evolve as heavily forested landscapes grow around it in the decades to come. It is a legacy community project for the future of the County of Bedford, the surrounding Municipality of Stanbridge Station, and the Brome-Missisquoi Regional County Municipality, resiliently harmonized with the region’s ecosystem and the territories it is a part of.